Career Development

How to Plan Your Public Health Career Map

Planning your Public Health career map is essential if you want to make progress. So many times, I’ve heard, “I really love public health, but I just seem to be stuck” or “I keep pushing myself, but I never seem to make progress”. Sometimes it’s good to step back and reflect and make a solid plan. Here are some of our best tactics:

Plan your strategy

Start by researching multiple career paths and explore what it’s like to work in them. For example, could you do some work experience, is there someone you could shadow for a week? This way you can get a much better sense of where you want to go and which skills you might need to develop to support you in many future career paths.

Where do you want to be?

Next, you need to find public health experts that are a few steps ahead of you in the type of career you want to have. Use Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, attend conferences or speak to colleagues you currently work with.

Next, you need to contact these people and start to build a rapport. Ask if they’re available to meet, have a Zoom session or a chat on the phone. Once this is booked, work out what details you need to ask them. Then, when talking to these people, many ask for general advice, and they get general feedback…work hard, network, keep going. But, if you want specific details to add to your strategy, you need to ask the right questions. Ask details such as:

  • How did they get to their point in their career?
  • What skills have they mastered?
  • What projects have they managed?
  • What training/qualifications have they done?
  • What is driving their results?
  • What’s their proudest achievement in public health, and how did they get there?

Learn the skills needed to accelerate your next career move

Once you have spoken to 2-3 people and have detailed answers, this will help draw your career map. Next, you need to consider how to cultivate the skills to move you forward to where you want to be. People who produce more value have more leverage to get rewarding careers that fit with their values. If you think about it right now, you can likely think of skills that, if you got exceptional at them, would be incredibly valuable for your career. 

Utilise your current job

Next, you need to consider how to get these skills. Whether you work in public health or you are planning to have a career change, there are several ways you can attempt to gain valuable skills:

  • Seek high-profile assignments
  • Ask to work alongside influential leaders
  • Communicate openly and directly about career aspirations
  • Let managers know the skills you want to work on
  • Continually seek opportunities 
  • Learn the political landscape 
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help

Hitting a block

No matter what point you’re at in your professional life, overcoming blocks in your career map is an inevitable part of the journey. Unfortunately, some of them can set you back or halt your progress. For example, you might have a heavy workload, clashes with colleagues, or external factors beyond your control, such as family commitments. 

Whatever you’re facing, there are lessons to be learned. Take the obstacle as an opportunity. You can’t always control the circumstances around you, but you can always control how you react to them. 

If you find yourself in the middle of your career journey and you hit a bump in the road, pause and breathe. Remember why you want to work in public health, how others have inspired you and what impact your work has on others. Take one step after another, and you will arrive at your destination.

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